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Judicial Activism

Judicial Activism
Ronald Roy — 2012 November 27
Having stated in last week’s article titled “Hoy, kami ang boss mo!!!” that the infamous Ampatuan carnage “trial of all time” has been crawling even slower than at a snail’s pace, no thanks to some pro-accused constitutional provisions, Rules of Court, statutes and jurisprudence (CPRSJ, for brevity’s sake) I feel that an elaboration on “judicial activism” as a countervailing measure is in order.
To be quite frank, I am comfortable with the present set of CPRSJ, but I believe that the interests of justice will be subverted by their strict application to heinous felonies comparable to the Ampatuan massacre in terms of the latter’s unprecedented magnitude in the number of victims, depravity, impunity, number of prosecution and defense lawyers and witnesses, motions, rejoinders, sur-rejoinders, documents, etcetera.
Indeed, unless something drastic is done, a denial of justice to the plaintiffs, the People of the Philippines, may unduly result from the prevailing CPRSJ that impede the constitutional guarantee of a speedy delivery of justice—alas, a situation showing an unpardonable dearth of courage and innovation on the part of all officially concerned with the operations within the criminal justice system!
But first, let’s consider some concepts before we tackle “judicial activism”, like “legal certainty” and “moral certainty”.
When a trial judge pronounces “guilty beyond reasonable doubt”, he is said to have reached the point of “legal certainty”, i.e., he has tried and judged the case in accordance with one: his personal appreciation of the facts and evidence presented during the trial, and two: his understanding of the CPRSJ which he deemed to be applicable. In other words, the trial judge is not necessarily an infallible adjudicator of all cases he handles.
It follows then that since no two human beings are identical to each other, another judge may see the same case differently, hence, incidentally, the need for collegial courts for the handling of capital punishment suits, like the Sandiganbayan that has original and exclusive jurisdiction to try electoral sabotage cases, and the 15-member Supreme Court, acting on its duty to automatically review cases where the highest penalty of life sentence has been imposed.
Bridget (Nograles), “moral certainty” is that point at which I can state that, say, even before the trial of a crime has started, “the defendant is guilty as hell”, and I can say it without feeling immoral about having made the statement. C’mon Bridget, I’m sure you’ll agree that practically the whole of society is morally convinced that Andal Ampatuan, Jr., for instance, is guilty as hell, and that a very dull-bladed guillotine, preferably thoroughly encrusted and roughened with rust, is still too good for him as his comeuppance.
However, sed lex dura lex (the law is harsh, but the law is the law), as the traditional adage goes. But, in the interest of justice, I propose that judicial traditionalism, such as that referring to CPRSJ, must yield to judicial activism. Judicial activism, texter #3085, means “going the extra mile”, or “crossing the line” in order to facilitate the triumph of justice, Machiavellian though it may be.
In a manner of speaking, Dindo (Cruz), yes, a judicial activist’s view of Andal Ampatuan, Jr. is that he is presumed guilty until he proves himself innocent beyond reasonable doubt. I hasten to clarify, however, that judicial activism, given the understandable inertness of CPRSJ in promptly satisfying the ends of justice in the subject Ampatuan case, must be applied only to the said case and such other similar cases that may arise thereafter.
One brutal fact that urges the adoption of judicial activism in the instant case is that the State, per force of CPRSJ, must still prove certain things that are already obvious from a moral standpoint, in the process moronically spending enormous sums of public money for the defendant’s daily subsistence, humane comforts, and confinement conditions ensuring his safety, in fine: giving him the benefits under the very law that he has himself violated in the most bestial and unspeakable manner, and in a way depicting him as totally devoid of remorse. His wrongdoing is egregiously unique; ergo, he must be tried and judged uniquely.
The resort to judicial activism by the honorable judge trying the Ampatuan case is certain to see a growing series of rulings in favor of plaintiffs, especially on matters deemed irrelevant and dilatory. Defensive maneuvers will surely reach the Supreme Court lambasting the rulings as onerous and even unconstitutional; but the high court, likewise attuned to the dynamics of a new activism, will rebuff them.
The foregoing scenario is possible, but only if the high tribunal, the trial court, the department of justice and other concerned government agencies, professional groups, etc. agree to get their act together to spin the wheels of justice at a much faster pace.
The executive department appears timid in exerting its prosecutorial efforts in turning those activist wheels. Pres. Noynoy Aquino has shown unwarranted disinterest, and only he knows why he has not gone the extra mile or crossed the line—a seeming omission for which he may eventually face public censure.
I guess it’s now all up to the youthful Chief Justice and the energetic Secretary of Justice to devise a manner of getting things done the activist way. For sure, they will be applauded by a grateful nation.
Leave it to CJ Maria Lourdes Sereno’s court to declare “not unconstitutional” all such judicially activist pronouncements that are made in the interest of the nation’s survival.
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